State Sues Over Tainted Tap Water

Fines could reach into millions if lawsuit successful

By Zach Christman
|  Thursday, Jul 30, 2009  |  Updated 1:42 PM CDT
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EPA Investigates Possible Cause of Disease in Crestwood Water

Tim Graham

Crestwood officials illegally added tainted water to their public water supply for decades and lied about it, according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

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Feds Probe Crestwood Water

First came the angry call from residents, and now a full-blown investigation is underway in one southwest suburb.

EPA Investigates Possible Cause of Disease in Crestwood Water

April 22: EPA finds Crestwood drinking water sits on Lake Michigan and was supplied by contaminated water from backup well years ago.
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The water fight in Crestwood just went big time.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is suing the Village of Crestwood and several local officials, alleging the town’s drinking water was unsafe, and that officials lied about it to residents and the state EPA.

Although Crestwood is on Lake Michigan water, the state EPA found that the water was being illegally commingled with water from an emergency backup well.

Last month, federal officials raided Crestwood City Hall, carting away boxes of documents for their investigation. Sen. Dick Durbin has called for an investigation into whether anyone was harmed by chemicals in the water -- something that many residents claim.

Madigan said town officials knew about contamination in the water in 1985, but continued the practice of adding water from the backup well to the public water supply until 2007. Officials allegedly covered up the use of the contaminated well by lying to residents and the Illinois EPA, claiming they were not using the well, the AG’s office said.

“Crestwood officials violated the public’s trust and the laws designed to protect public health,” said Attorney General Madigan. “Through this lawsuit, we are seeking to hold these officials accountable for their conduct and to make sure that this does not happen again in Illinois.”

The lawsuit names former Mayor Chester Stranczek, Mayor Robert Stranczek and Frank Scaccia, the man in charge of operating Crestwood’s water since the late '80s.

If Madigan’s lawsuit is successful, Crestwood could face millions of dollars in fines -- $50,000 per violation and $10,000 for each day the violation occurred.

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